Addison Kleinke cleared 14 feet, 1/2 inch at Nike Outdoor Nationals on June 15 at Hayward Field. (Photo by Brynn Kleinke)
Addison Kleinke cleared 14 feet, 1/2 inch at Nike Outdoor Nationals on June 15 at Hayward Field. (Photo by Brynn Kleinke)

Addison Kleinke's breakthrough effort in the pole vault at Nike Outdoor Nationals this month at Hayward Field did more than just reset her state record.

It took a world of pressure off the Churchill star, who had not set a personal best in more than one year.

“I was starting to get frustrated,” said Kleinke, the two-time 5A champion. “It felt like I was training and nothing was changing. That was the rough part.”

Kleinke set the high school state record as a freshman in 2023, clearing 13 feet, 4 ½ inches at the state meet, and increased it to 13-7 ¼ last June. She had high hopes for her sophomore season but could do no better than 13-5 ¼.

She matched her personal best by hitting 13-7 ¼ on June 13, when she took seventh at the USATF U20 Championships at Hayward Field, to set the stage for her breakthrough.

Two days later at Nike Outdoor Nationals, Kleinke needed three tries to get over 13-0 ¾ and 13-4 ½, then made it over 13-8 ½ on her first attempt to set a new personal best. She hit 14-0 ½ on her second try and finished tied for second behind Ella McRitchie (14-4 ½), a senior from Bainbridge Island, Wash.

“I was pretty in the zone,” Kleinke said. “I had to pull it together on a third attempt twice. At 14 I was just kind of like, 'Put it up and see what happens.' I was pretty lucky with the progression. It went up pretty perfectly.”

Kleinke had a good feeling before the 14-foot vault.

“I was at the back of the runway and I had just grabbed a new pole that I knew was going to help me over the bar,” she said. “I knew I was going to make it, but I didn't know if I was mentally prepared for the bar to actually stay up.”

Making 14 feet was a benchmark for Kleinke, who entered high school with much fanfare after clearing 13-6 as an eighth-grader.

“It means so much more than even I can explain,” Kleinke said. “Fourteen feet was one of my all-time goals for myself in my high school years. It was almost like, 'What do I even do now?' It was such a big jump that I didn't expect myself to make so early.”

Kleinke came back Sunday to win the Junior Olympic state meet at Mt. Hood Community College with a height of 12-5 ½. The mark qualifies her for the JO Region 13 meet July 4-7 at MHCC.

“I just wanted to make regionals,” Kleinke said of her performance at JO state. “I wasn't too worried about exhausting myself. The goal is to peak right around July.”

She is aiming to qualify for JO nationals July 22-28 in College Station, Texas. She already has scheduled a trip to College Station to compete in the MAC Vault Academy Summer National Championships July 18-20.

Kleinke is looking to build on her momentum but is keeping expectations in perspective.

“We've got the rest of the JO season to keep going,” Kleinke said. “It's been a really long season, and I hit a big bar. My goal is just going to be to stay consistent around that mark, and just keep staying up at those bigger bars, keep getting on bigger poles.

“I'm not setting any crazy PR goals. I know I can do it, but I'm not going to set that for myself this season. I'm going to set mostly intangible goals. For sure, I want to jump higher, but I'm not going to put that on myself this season.”

Kleinke trains under her father, Robert, a former track and football athlete at Sprague who has coached club track. She said the biggest change in her training of late is putting up bars in practice.

“We didn't do that for a really long time,” she said. “I don't think I practiced with a bar for the first two or three years that I jumped. We finally started throwing up bars just to try to get me over the mental barrier of certain heights.

“I had made 13-4, 13-5 in practice, but every time I was over 13-6, I was barely knocking it off. So I was pretty confident in being able to make it. I feel like I've matured as an athlete mentally a lot.”

Williams-Downing wins national title

West Linn's Hayden Williams-Downing also turned in a stellar performance at Nike Outdoor Nationals, winning the girls javelin with a throw of 162-10.

The win came two days after Williams-Downing finished fourth in the USATF U20 Championships by throwing 155-3. Evelyn Bliss of Bucknell University was first at 168-1.

Williams-Downing broke out as a junior this year for West Linn, throwing a state-best 165-7 to increase her personal best by 25 feet and move to No. 6 on the state's all-time list. She won the 6A title with a throw of 141-7.

Elite sprinters improve

Lake Oswego senior James Bauman, the 100-meter state champion in 5A last year and 6A this year, improved on his best by taking fourth at the USATF U20 Championships.

Bauman finished in 10.44 seconds to edge his previous PR of 10.46. He stands third on the state's all-time list behind Benson's Micah Williams (10.21 in 2019) and Aloha's Thomas Tyner (10.35 in 2011).

Roosevelt sophomore Aster Jones clocked 11.80 in 100 prelims at Nike Outdoor Nationals, beating her old PR of 11.83. She ranks No. 7 all-time in the state.

Cracking top 10

Banks sophomore Sophie Schoolmeester moved into the top 10 of the state's all-time list in the 800 with her time in the Portland Track Festival on June 9 at Lincoln High School.

Schoolmeester finished in 2:09.30, a three-second improvement, to finish 25th in the High Performance division at the meet. Her time is No. 10 in state history.

Schoolmeester is a two-time 3A champion in the 800. She also won the 1,500 this year.

Mauro soars

Catlin Gabel's Caroline Mauro made a big move in the high jump at Nike Outdoor Nationals.

Mauro, who entered with a PR of 5-9, cleared 5-10 ¾ to finish second at the meet. She climbs to No. 6 all-time in the state..

Mauro finished her junior season with a third consecutive 3A title in the high jump. She also was state runner-up in the long jump.